South Coast Flame were able to keep their first clean sheet of the 2019 season in a 2-0 win at home to Balmain Tigers. Louis Connell put the home side ahead in the first-half before Jayden Smileski scored his maiden first-grade goal in the second. The win finished an eventful week for the Flame, after parting ways with Coach Paul Robaard since their 9-0 loss to Central Coast United.

Our U/18’s were able to comfortably defeat Balmain in a 3-0 win whilst our U/20’s had a disappointing 1-0 loss.

The First Grade match began with a fierce midfield battle, as neither side were able to create any chances. Balmain were able to settle themselves and controlled the majority of possession in the following stages of the match.

Balmain’s first chance came through a defensive error from the Flame in the 21st minute, when Diawoye Sangare was able to pounce on a wayward header. The speedy striker was able to get a touch of the bouncing ball, but the lob that followed brushed past the left post.

The Flame responded with a chance of their own in the 23rd minute, after Louis Connell was able to gain control of a long ball from the Flame’s own half. Connell was able to attack down the right side, but his shot narrowly missed the left post.

South Coast began to pressure the Balmain defence through a collection of dangerous attacks, which very nearly lead to a goal. In the 29th minute, Seiya Oba was able to break through the Balmain midfield and feed the ball into the path of Hiroaki Ushijima – but Ushijima’s attempt at goal missed the right post.

Flame thought they had their opener in the 30th minute, when Andrew Christie capitalised on a defensive scrap from Balmain to place the ball into the back of the net – however Christie was flagged offside.

South Coast were unable to take advantage of their early territorial dominance, as they lost the ball at crucial times when attacking. Balmain were able to hold on to the ball for longer and looked to have eased themselves back into the contest.

South Coast opened the scoring in the 36th minute through the dangerous Connell. Ushijima was able to make his way behind the Balmain defence and force a shot on goal, but he was unable to connect with the ball properly when shooting. Despite this, the ball fell to Connell who made no mistake in front of goal.

The Flame continued to play with positivity, however the scoreline did not change before half time.

In the opening stages of the second half, Balmain controlled the majority of the ball as they looked to snatch an equaliser – however the Tigers were unable to find the back of the net.

South Coast nearly added to the scoresheet in the 55th minute, after a cheeky free-kick from Daniel Lucas found Seiya Oba – who was able to cross the ball into the box. The cross wasn’t dealt with by Balmain as Christie tapped the ball into the back of the net – however he was denied by the offside-flag for the second time in the match.

South Coast were able to string together some nice passages of play in the following minutes, however there was no end product for the Flame.

Balmain looked to equalise in the 70th minute, when Aleksander Al-Shamiry was able to feed the ball towards Sangare – but Sangare’s shot that followed was brilliantly saved by Matthew White.

The Tigers threatened just three minutes later, when Miki Bisceglia was able to cut inside and have a shot on goal – which was saved comfortably by White.

South Coast snatched their second in the 77th minute, which resulted in a maiden First Grade goal for Jayden Smileski. The left-fullback was able to forcefully advance through the Balmain defence down the left-wing, and managed to poke the ball into the bottom right corner.

Flame had to hold on if they wanted the three points, but Sangare continued to threaten for Balmain. In the 80th minute, Sangare was able to control a through ball from Mario Garcia and force a shot on goal – but White continued to deny the dangerous striker.

The game settled down for the Flame in the final stages of the match, as they were able to hold on for the three points and earn their first clean sheet of the season.

After producing a man of the match performance, White praised the team’s resilience after bouncing back from a tough week on and off the field.

“Very tough week for the team on and off the field. I got the lads together and just made sure they were focused on the job they had in front of them today. They all stepped up and got the result we needed” White said.

The club captain also praised Smileski after grabbing his maiden goal for the first team.

“Jayden was very impressive today. He really showed that he is up to the challenge of playing first grade football. It was good to see one of my defenders get a goal”

Our U/20’s suffered a frustrating 1-0 loss in the previous match, in a game that did not live up to its potential. Balmain took the lead mid-way through the first half, and unfortunately the Flame couldn’t equalise despite having a few chances.

Our U/18’s snatched a 3-0 win after a below-par performance. Despite this, the Flame can have a positive attitude as they have a foundation to build on in the weeks to come. The Flame took the lead in the first half through Fabian Zapata, before two second half goals sealed a comfortable win for the young Flame.

South Coast are on the road for the first time this season next Saturday, when they take on Prospect United at Blacktown Football Park. U/18’s kick off at 3pm, U/20’s kick off at 5pm, and First Grade kick off at 7pm.

Report by Jarrod Pollard.


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